Week 11: Tuesday, November 17

On Tuesday, we have no class, and you can spend the time preparing for the exam and the two remaining groups can prepare their presentations. Groups should avoid creating presentations where they are reading lots of words on the screen. For these final presentations, it would be best to just do them as a leaded discussion, so that the classmates can also talk about the materials. Never ask opinion questions, instead, make sure questions are sociological in nature.

On Thursday, the exam will be at the same time as class, and you can take it on any computer and log into Blackboard. You will find the exam button on the left menu option side. The exam will appear only during the class time. There are 50 multiple choice, true/false questions, and they will come in order one at a time, with no backtracking. Your score should be available immediately. If you have any problems, email me, but I may be unable to respond right away.

Welcome to Week 9 of class. On Tuesday, November 3 Group 3 will lead us in a discussion of the assigned reading chapter 2: “Mitad Alla, Mitad Aqui: Half There, Half Here,” in the book Intimate Migrations: Gender, Family, and Illegality Among Transnational Mexicans, by Deborah A. Boehm. We will also watch the documentary Documented, on both Tuesday and Thursday. (I have cancelled the reading assigned for Thursday. I am also canceling the two remaining quizzes, unless there are objections). Documented will be the replacement material (instead of Thursday’s reading) that will be on the exam.

Group discussion questions (find brief info online in a few minutes, and post links in comments section)
Group 1: What is the Dream ACT?
Group 2: What are the various solutions to gain some legal status for undocumented migrants in the U.S.? What was Jose’s solutions?
Group 3: Describe the process of gaining citizenship in the U.S. in general (types of visas, wait, limits, etc.)
Group 4: The overall costs of gaining citizenship or green card?
Group 5: Anecdotal stories of the process covering a range of examples.

In the News
Red Tape Slows U.S. Help for Children Fleeing Central America

For this week in class, we will be watching two documentaries about families that are formed through surrogacy and international adoption. The first documentary is Google Baby, a movie about what happens when pregnancies are outsourced internationally, demonstrating the divide between rich and poor nations and people.

On Tuesday, we will watch the documentary Wo Ai Ne Mommy, about a New York family that adopts an older daughter from China. While older children are unusual for adoptions, this child is able to express her culture shock and adjustment to her new family.

NYTimes: Coming to the U.S. for baby, and Womb to Carry It: Foreign Couples coming to America for Surrogate Pregnancies

China to End One-Child Policy, Allowing Families Two Children

It’s the 7th week of class, and this week we will be talking about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Families (LGBT). On Thursday, October 22, we will have guest speaker Dr. Brian Frank talking with us about his own same-sex, trans-racial family. On Tuesday, group two will overview the assigned readings listed below. Everyone should read chapter 2, and the two shorter articles linked below. Here is the Prezi for the book License to Wed.

We will watch the Business of Being Born in class on Tuesday October 6 and Thursday October 8, after our discussion of the assigned readings.
Group 1 will lead us in a discussion of the assigned readings and they will post their relevant materials in the comments section below.

  • “Sex and Marriage in the minds of emerging adults” (Skolnick)

“Grounds for Marriage: How relationships succeed or fail,” By Arlene Skolnick
The death of marriage is a popular story recycled through the media, but the fact remains that 90% of Americans will eventually marry, which is the highest rate out of all industrialized nations. As Stephanie Coontz pointed out, historically marriage was about bringing together these two families and economic security, the biggest change of contemporary marriage is that it is based on this ephemeral ideal of love.

The author bases the paper on two of her studies, the first of which is based on the longitudinal studies carried out at the Institute of Human Development (IHD) at the University of California, Berkeley. This study spanned from 1958 to 1982. Relationships have different perspectives: that of the different spouses and the good and the bad. By analyzing the statements of good and bad from the couples, researchers could not determine the happy couples from analyzing the statements based on the negative reports, only the positive reports demonstrated the happy couples. John Gottman developed four behavioral patterns that reflected marital breakdown: criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling. Relationships needed to demonstrate a 5 to 1 ratio of positive feedback to negative interactions for the healthy couples. Lifestyle or common interests didn’t matter; the emotional core of the marriage was the single determining factor.

October 1, 2015, Thursday:
An overview of the book “Modern Romance,” by Aziz Ansari and NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg that examines how cell phones and the internet have impacted how we communicate for dating and romance. See the Prezi here.

Stephanie Coontz, expert on history of marriage
3:30-17:00 watch in class. Overview of historic marriages until the contemporary emphasis on mutual satisfaction.


Assignment: Blog posting: see syllabus for requirements such as word count, academic citation, links, videos, pics. Pick a dating website or an online dating issue and post your idea and name in the comments section below. Be sure to include a sociological perspective on your topic: include as many relevant statistics, talk about demographics, institutions, and power as it relates to the topic. Include at least one academic citation. You can cite additional newspaper stories and such.

Be ready to report back on your topic for a minute or two.


Dating Online

OkTrends is the blog cite where data from OkCupid is compiled and written up.

Prezi on Dataclysm: Who We Are… When We Think No One’s Looking, Christian Rudder


Paula England is a preeminent researcher on the hookup culture among college students across the country at 18 public and private universities. In her video, she talks about the gender gap in the hookup culture in regards to sexual pleasure and what men and women are getting out of this phenomenon.

On September 24th, Thursday, we are reading the article by Kathleen A. Bogle, “Hooking Up and Dating: A Comparison.” In this article she outlines that in the cultural shift from the more historic dating script to that of the hookup culture, the most important change has been the role of how sexual behavior fits into the equation: whereas with dating it came after a series of dates, in the hookup culture it can come at any point, including in the beginning before any dating has taken place, and that it might never take place. She also argues that hooking up and dating take place during different periods in one’s life: while hooking up may be more common during college or young adult years, dating can take place later on, when someone is more serious in their life and relationships.

Related Videos:

Feminist filmmaker Therese Shechter analyzes the social construction of the idea of female virginity in her documentary, How to Lose Your Virginity. This website provides sex education for teens: scarleteen.

The short documentary below, Slutwalk: A Day in Her Heels, overviews the activism behind the North American Slutwalk movement, which addresses the issue of rape culture. What percentage of women and men will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18? For American women, how many will be sexually abused during their lifetime? See statistics here at WOAR

Most recent study “23% of Women Report Sexual in College, Study Finds

Untitled1Welcome to Sociology of the Family 130. During this first week of class please read through the syllabus throughly, looking over all assignments, grading requirements, and the upcoming schedule. Be sure you are enrolled in Blackboard and able to access the readings there. You will be assigned to a group in Blackboard as well, let me know if that doesn’t show up.

Icebreakers1) In pairs of two or three students, introduce the other student by listing their name, major, year, and one way in which their family is (statistically) average/mainstream and one way in which their family is (statistically) unique.

2) In groups at your table, choose one social institution to examine. Discuss the ways in which this institution would be addressed differently by sociologists versus psychologists. How does this institution intersect with issues related to demographics and social power.

Class on Thursday, September 10th is canceled. In order to repair for class on September 15th, Tuesday, please establish your own WordPress.com account and begin learning how to create your own website, chose a design and title it. Create a page (see difference between page and posts) called Biography and post a picture of yourself. Begin drafting the biography assignment that we will go over in class on the 15th. Check out the following clips as examples for what to focus on:

  • Documentary Clips: Yo Soy Boricua and Family Name
    think about your own family, ethnic and cultural identity, and demographic background
  • September 17: My family background

Include the following: Your full name, major, year, extra-curricular activities. Have an opening into your story and a sociological theme about your family identity that you follow. Talk about demographics (gender, race, religion, ethnicity, location, class, etc.), institutions (education, government, military, economy, medical, etc.), and social power dynamics (how is power exercised in your family and how do you learn about it), as it relates to your story. List as many as you can, in detail. How does the stories in the documentaries Family Name and Yo Soy Boricua resonate with your own? What is sociologically significant about your family? Mention some statistics related to your family, in order to contextualize it. (Include links, pictures, and videos).


Each posting should include a minimum word count (500) and include links. The grading will be based on how well written it is (7 points) and the inclusion of appropriate, quality links (3 points).

Be sure to read the syllabus fully before our next class meeting. We may have a brief pop quiz over the syllabus. Make sure you understand the assignments, readings, and Blackboard.

Please do come to class having the readings, having notes on the readings, and speaking points about your response to the readings and questions.

Here’s some interesting article(s) that cover topics related to the sociological imagination. 

10 Insidious Ways White Supremacy Shows Up in Our Everyday Lives

Time Wise: White Privilege, Racism, White Denial & The Cost of Inequality

The Structure of Social Groups (definitions)

(Group discussion: Be ready to define/example any of the following terms)

Social organization
Social structure
Social relationship
Master status
Social control
Social group
Primary group
Secondary group
“iron cage” of rationality
the group affects perceptions
the group affects convictions
the group affects health and life
the group affects behavior
social system
social stratification

Groups can post their presentations in the comments section below.

This week in class, we will be discussing the economic context for American families and its impact. How do families negotiate work and family life? What is the impact of the second shift on families? We will be reading chapter 9: Work and Family Life on Tuesday, and Chapter 10: Family and the Economy on Thursday. In addition, we will watch the documentary Inequality for All.

The Second Shift: Working Parents and the Revolution at Home, Arlie Hochschild, with Anne Machung



In this article, the Holts family is followed by the authors and their story represents the ways in which men and women negotiate their division of household labor, or do not. Nancy felt she was doing 80% of the housework and 90 percent of the childcare. Evan felt he did 40 percent of the housework and 30 percent of the childcare. How did Nancy and Evan negotiate this workload among themselves?

In order to understand this issue more, we will have two groups focus on this article: Groups 1 and 2.

Group 1: Demonstrate visually (through performing, drawing on the white board, or through images) this issue of how men and women view the division of household labor. Present this to the class.

Group 2: Find statistics on the division of household labor. Some international comparisons with Europe or other countries. GLBT families and household labor statistics. A few discussion questions.

pamelaThe Rhetoric and Reality of “Opting Out,” Pamela Stone

Stone interviewed 54 women in a variety of high powered professions, and studied their stories and opportunities for work-family balance. In the end, these women chose to quit their jobs and stay at home, because of unyielding husbands who were basically absent at home because of their high demand jobs, and an inflexible workplace that did not provide flexible options.

Group 3: Draw on the white board, or enact, or demonstrate visually, the main topics of this chapter. Be sure to cover the following ideas: opting-out, choice gap, concerted cultivation, elder-care, absentee fathers/husbands, ideal worker.

Group 4: find statistics on the main topics included in the article: percentage of women who opt out, what careers they held, flexible workplaces, family policies, and cost of childcare. Discussion questions.

One Sick Child Away from Being Fired,” Joan C. Williams 

This article is based on ninety-nine cases of union arbitrations caused by workers being fired because they left work to take care of a sick child, or to fulfill their childcare duties. Most workers, however, are not unionized (87%), and therefore have less protection than these workers. Blue and pink collar workers have rigid schedules and can be dismissed for leaving or arriving late. Many parents do what the author calls, “tag teams” to take care of child care, when the couple works at different times so that one of them can be home to take care of the kids. When this fragile network fails, it causes problems at work, including termination. Many rely on family members for child care, as the costs for a one year old child in day care can cost as much as the local state college tuition.

Group 5: Represent the chapter visually, through a drawing, enactment or another method.

Group 6: Provide some statistics that the article does and does not cover. Discussion questions.


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